West 2020

Day 05

July 17

  I awake BlueBelle from a restful slumber. This is one of the riding days I've been looking forward to with great anticipation.  
  So we are out and about to greet the sunrise.  
  I84 will be my companion for a little while but then I leave the slab for the rest of the day and get to ride one of my favorite roads in the USA.  
  I have the little bit of slab that I do have to do all to myself this morning. At least part of it is a pleasant run alongside the Snake River.  
  The sun creeps up slowly, lighting the dusty, dry hills before me.  
  I can only imagine how much snow they must get in the dead of winter. But right now after all the heat I could really appreciate a little snow.  
  Off to my left I spy a substantial home place built out of stone, outbuildings still standing. It was obviously built to last and has lasted but looks unoccupied for real long time. Sort of sad to think about how whoever took the care and thought to build something this well appears to have had no thought for the care afterwards.  
  And yet a little further down the road, another homestead still thrives and is occupied. We don't know (and that's a good thing) exactly what the future holds for us. It reminds me of when people talk about their 'bucket list' of stuff they want to do one day. I usually tell them that they better do what they can do now as their 'bucket' may get a hole in it later. That is why I ride the many miles to visit places of interest to me. I have today and that is all I can count on.  
  Breakfast is catch as you can since sit downs are closed and once again BlueBelle is my dining room and table at a convenience store.  
  With a little breakfast tucked under the belt, I'm on to the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway.  
  As I look around, it looks more like 'Hay' Canyon instead.  
  I guess irrigation is a necessity to produce this amount of hay to last through their long winters.  
  Soon I leave the slab behind and turn onto Highway 82, which is a real delight to ride.  
  The pavement goes a little 'south' but it runs along a peaceful river for a while which suits me quite well.  

When I see this sign I wonder -

"Loose gravel - just how 'loose' is it?"

  Fortunately for me, it's pretty well 'processed' chip and seal and most of the loose stuff is not too loose.  
  About half way along Highway 82 is the small village of Wallowa.  
  It has some really interesting old buildings in it. This old church building looks like it got a new life as a residence somewhere along the way.  
  This one is still in business and the imposing towers on either side catch my eye.  
  The main street itself is pretty quiet and has seen years of neglect.  
  Further down is an old building built originally for a bank. It certainly looks like a bank should look - sturdy and well constructed to be a place of safety for a feller's money.  
  Across the street appears to be a building constructed for one of the original telephone exchanges when real live operators were 'standing by' to make a connection for you.  
  As I leave town the elevation increases and so do the twisties.  
  As turn on Highway 3, I see my first hint of snow capped mountain - something you won't see in Tennessee in July.  
  I wonder if this is cultivars of the plant family Brassicaceae - commonly known as rapeseed which is the base of canola oil.  
  As with many signs I encounter, I sort of give this a shrug and move on down the road.  

But when an oncoming motorist flashes his headlights I begin to wonder -

"Is there accident? Is there local Barney Fife waiting for a revenue opportunity?"

My questions are soon answered as I round a curve and Bessie is out for her morning stroll. I wish her a very good morning and get around her as quickly as I can.

  Soon I enter into the Wallowa National Forest and ...  
  the area of Joseph Canyon, named for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. He is traditionally thought to have been born in a cave on the east bank of Joseph Creek in this canyon. Joseph Creek eventually empties into the mighty Snake River via the Grande Ronde River.  
  Further along I see different sort of 'tree' that at least looks a bit better than the normal ugly cell and microwave towers.  
  Highway 3 is delightful series of twisties and turns and elevation changes ...  
  that are a blessed relief after all of the time I have spent on the slab on this ride.  
  And it brings me to an excellent Washington state line sign that I have used before before it turns into Highway 129. This is a good 'twofer' if I needed a Oregon sign, but I've already snagged it earlier.  
  Below I can see the road as it twists and turns like an old black snake laying on a hot rock in the sun.  
  And I have to agree with sign - this road really rocks!  
  It's a lovely road to ride on this lovely day as ...  
  it twists and turns ...  
  as it clings to the edge of the mountains.  
  The pavement is also in amazing good shape which makes the ride even more enjoyable.  
  Soon I'm down out of the twisty stuff for now and more into the flat stuff.  
  Sadly, I pass another abandoned homestead sitting high on a ridge. The ones that lived there in the past sure had a beautiful view to contemplate.  
  Sometimes you wonder how in the world is the road going to contort to connect with the lower parts.  
  As the bottom of all of that is village of Asotin which eventually became the location of a ferry across the Snake River.  
  There's an interesting old church I see as I make my way through the town proper.  
  At the other end, the mighty Snake River commands the view.  
  I figure I'd better gas up before highway 12 so I make a stop at the Neighborhood Market in Lewiston, Idaho.  
  And with that business dispatched, I come to the road that I really love to ride - Highway 12.  

Highway 12 to me is one of the best motorcycle roads in the United States. It is over 100 miles of good pavement, beautiful scenery, lazy sweepers, and little traffic. To put in perspective, here's a quote from my Brit friend Dave who came over to ride with me in 2009 -

Since we'll be stopped for a while, we put the kickstands down and take a little break. Dave comes over with a big grin on his face that may be permanent and gives me a big hug -

'I've never ridden such a road in my entire life where you could just keep blasting along mile after mile."

  As I ride through the village of Orifino, I see this immaculate Hudson Wasp for sale. Hudson unfortunately ended up in the dust bin as did many of the automobile makers from the early 1900s. But they had a stellar reputation for innovation and quality in their day.  
  Just outside of town is another bit of history as Highway 12 sort of follows the path of the original Lewis and Clark Expedition. There is a Tennessee connection as Meriwether Lewis died along the Natchez Trace in southern Tennessee under mysterious circumstances.  
  It's such a delightful ride as Highway 12 twists one way ...  
  then the other - never too tightly but just about rightly.  

I spot this sign and decide to snap a quick shot. There's no real shoulder to park on but there's been no traffic for quite a while. I snap my shot and as I am getting ready to mount Bluebelle, a local lady stops in the middle of the road. I think maybe she is checking to see if I am having trouble. But she says in her most authoritative, demanding voice -

"You need to get your bike out of the road!"

Well, there is a lot of answers that pop into my brain but I tell her in my nicest tone and a smile on my face -

"Ma'am, I'll be glad to do that just as soon as you get your car out of the way."

She looks a little confused and stunned and then drives off. The funny thing to me was she was blocking the road because she stopped dead in the middle to give me instructions and I was not.

  When I see this sign I wonder what kind of game they are talking about - Monopoly? Or maybe Dominoes?  
  I don't know if this feller has a museum, a collection or a junk yard of old trucks. But most of them look to be various years of Chevys.  
  A little further along there is another sign in case you forget the first one ... and no one stops to advise me at this one.  
  You may forget the signs, but you can be sure that the road won't let you forget. It's not the place to let your attention get diverted.  
  When I come to the Montana state line sign, it's pretty well covered with graffiti - but I know to get what I can when I can. Hopefully there will be a better one on Highway 212 tomorrow.  
  I am always saddened when I see the evidence of a major forest fire. My heart aches for those that suffered through it and the innocent animals that were killed.  
  I get another glimpse of a snow capped mountain just off to my right.  
  Too soon I arrive at my abode for the evening, a Super 8 in Missoula Montana near the end of Highway 12.  
  It's been a great and enjoyable day of excellent roads and excellent weather and it's nice to get off the road at a more reasonable hour. I try to plan 'short' days when I can on the trips that I take and this was a short day of just over 500 miles.  
  And it's time to wash my nasty clothes or I will be wearing dirty ones for the rest of the trip. I get the requisite change necessary from the front desk and feed the beasts to do the work I need done.  
  There's a restaurant open across the street that has inside dining so I decide I'll have a real 'sit down' meal for a change. The salad is pretty good ...  
  but the ribeye I order is a little tough and gristly - not quite I expected from a restaurant in cattle country. Ribeyes (and I have consumed my fair share) are supposed to be tender and well marbled. This one fails on both accounts but I am too tired to send it back and just deal with it.  
  By the time I get back to the motel, my clothes are clean and ready to pack back up. I tend to a few electronic chores and let the full skin of my belly pull down the skin over my eyes.